Dear Members of the Lehigh Community,
We write to acknowledge our awareness of an open letter signed by a number of members of the Lehigh community. The letter, among other things, calls for an end to institutional racism at our university and in our country.
The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has shaken our nation, and brought into harsh relief the life-threatening, systemic racial injustice that affects the lives of so many every day. Members of our community are angry and fearful, and we will support them.
We know the authors and signers of the letter delivered their message with the measurable purpose to make Lehigh better. We share that goal and thank them for the commitment to our university. We need to make Lehigh University an actively anti-racist institution. By this, we mean actively speaking out and addressing acts of racism, racist comments, racist practices, policies and procedures.
We fully recognize and accept our responsibility, as leaders and stewards of this institution, to create the change that is needed. We cannot do so alone. We will require the involvement of all members of our community, and engagement in the difficult conversations and challenging decisions that can lead to sustainable, lasting change.
Our incoming Provost Nathan Urban; Vice President for Equity and Community, Donald Outing; and Vice President for Finance and Administration, Pat Johnson will initiate a comprehensive review, using internal and outside resources, of our university policies and procedures to ensure they are anti-racist. This will include but not be limited to tenure and promotion, hiring practices, student conduct and student recruitment. Members of our community will be consulted and involved in this work.
As a first step, we will immediately begin an independent review of the Lehigh University Police Department’s policies, procedures and practices. Part of this review will be an assessment of how we work with the Bethlehem Police Department and how that work impacts our students, faculty and staff. The results of these reviews will be reported to our campus community. We expect additional actions to follow after we have heard the voices of faculty, staff and students.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will hold a series of forums, meetings and virtual town halls to listen to members of our community, have candid dialogue and take further actions needed to make a stronger, actively anti-racist Lehigh University.
Kevin L. Clayton '84 '13P
Chair, Board of Trustees
John D. Simon ’19P